In a press statement today, the Police Media Unit reported that it has received information that the five people who were thought to be missing at sea have been found safe and alive in Vanuatu.

The five people from Tikopia, in Temotu Province, departed on 14 December 2007 and were traveling to Utupua. However, they never arrived. The missing people were Fr. Ambrose Muna, James Moratai, Christopher Kiri, Lilly Kiri and Monica Forau.

Police in Lata were informed that the group did not arrive and commenced a search and rescue operation. Police conducted searches within the Santa Cruz coastal areas and communities around Reef Islands and Utupua. A Participating Police Force and Sol Air flight also searched the area from the air as part of the rescue operation. However, no sign of the missing people or boat were found.

Temotu Provincial Police Inspector, Lazarus Taki, said it was with great relief that he received a telephone call today from Mekane Police Station in Vanuatu that assured him the missing people were alive and well.

"Everyone was very worried about how long it had been since we had heard from the missing people. I was delighted to hear from my police colleagues in Vanuatu that they were safe. Two weeks is a very long time to be missing at sea and everyone in Temotu will be pleased to hear they are safe."

"This is a timely reminder to people of how important it is to inform relatives and authorities of any travel plans," Inspector Taki said.

Relatives of the five missing people are encouraged to contact Lata Police on telephone 53184 for more information.